Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 5, 2018

Bilateral Relations

Talks on for logistics deal with Russia

What

  • India and Russia are in the process of concluding a logistics agreement, with both sides targeting to conclude consultations before the annual summit in October between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • The proposed agreement follows a series of such agreements India has signed since the first logistics agreement with the U.S.
  • The agreement with Russia will be on the lines of those signed with the U.S. and France.

Similar logistic agreements with other countries

  • India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA), with the U.S. in August 2016 after a decade of negotiations.
  • Since then it has concluded several such agreements with France, Oman, Philippines, Singapore and for access to the Sabang port in Indonesia.
  • Australia too has sent a draft agreement.

What is Logistic agreements

  • Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.

Banking

Reserve Bank tightens ombudsman scheme

What

  • The Reserve Bank of India has tightened the banking ombudsman scheme with the objective to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism for customers.
  • The banking regulator has asked all commercial banks having 10 or more banking outlets to have an independent internal ombudsman (IO) to review customer complaints that are either partly or fully rejected by the banks.

Enlighten about the role of IO

  • The IO shall, inter alia, examine customer complaints which are in the nature of deficiency in service on the part of the bank, that are partly or wholly rejected by the bank
  • The instructions are not applicable for Regional Rural Banks sponsored by commercial banks.
  • As banks should internally escalate complaints that are not fully redressed to their respective IOs before conveying the final decision to the complainant, customers need not approach the IO directly
  • The Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018 mandates banks to grant a fixed term of three to five years, which cannot be renewed, to the IO.
  • The IO can be removed only with prior approval from RBI. The remuneration would have to be decided by the customer sub-committee of the board.

Ministry of Railways

Conference on E- Mobility organised by Indian Railways & NITI Aayog

What

  • A Conference on “E-Mobility in Indian Railways” organized by Ministry of Railways through Institution of Railways Electrical Engineers (IREE) in association with NITI Aayog concluded here today.

Enlighten about the conference

  • The conference was a pre-cursor to the “Move: Global Mobility Summit” organized by NITI Aayog on 7th and 8th Sept.’18.

E-mobility

  • With increased urbanization in the country, its high time to pay more emphasis on E-mobility powered by clean energy to improve the living conditions.
  • Solar is a sunrise industry with potential for huge employment opportunities and Indian Railways should become a growth engine in promoting electric mobility systems in the country, capture the global opportunities in this field and also become a model to the other nations.
  • The need for more research in the energy storage technology for taking ahead renewable energy options further.
  • Indian Railways should take benefit of the competitive pricing in the solar technology and maximize the solar power generation.
  • The focus of E-mobility is moving towards electric driven vehicles from the traditional fossil based ones.
  • The technological advancements and reduction in the costs is driving the world towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and against this background, this conference on E-Mobility is being organized by Indian Railways in association with NITI Aayog.

International Organisations

24th RCEP Auckland Round from 17-24th October 2018

What

  • The 6th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting held on 30-31 August, 2018, in Singapore
  • Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, led the Indian delegation.
  • The Ministers attending the meeting took stock of the state of negotiations across the various negotiating Groups and Sub-Working Groups.

Enlighten about the outcome

  • The 16-nation group accepted some key demands from India: on differential tariff regimes for different country groups like China, and in allowing a 20-year implementation period of the agreement.
  • The RCEP negotiations will not end in 2018 that has been agreed at the level of the leaders. But it will go on in 2019 as well

The Package of Year End Deliverables

  • The Ministers endorsed ‘The Package of Year End Deliverables’ and urged the negotiators to intensify their work with a view to narrowing gaps and finding balanced outcomes in the negotiations as it moves forward.
  • A “package of substantial deliverables” would be agreed to in November this year, but not the preferential trade agreement, which has been negotiated for more than six years, itself.
  • Earlier reports had indicated that India would face a stark choice between agreeing to end RCEP negotiations by a deadline at the end of 2018, or to step back from the negotiations, while other countries including the 10 ASEAN nations, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, went on.
  • Another key area where India scored, according to officials, was in establishing a linkage between services and goods negotiations, given that some countries were not as welcoming of allowing movement of labour.

India’s stand

  • RCEP stands for regional cooperation in economic partnership.
  • It is not goods partnership alone… economic partnership envisages that services must be integral part of the trade. Separate negotiations
  • Of the 16 countries that have been negotiating for the RCEP, India does not have Free Trade Agreements with three countries — Australia, New Zealand and China, for which negotiations will now be separately held, in a “bilateral pairing mechanism”.
  • The Ministers directed that the negotiations on all these issues be intensified during the 24th RCEP Auckland Round from 17-24th October 2018.

Enlighten about RCEP

  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a mega regional free trade agreement being negotiated amongst 16 countries, comprising 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and six ASEAN FTA partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. So far 6 Ministerial Meetings, 5 Inter-sessional Ministerial Meetings and 23 Rounds of the Trade Negotiating Committee at the technical level have been held.

Defence

Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Exercise KAZIND 2018

What

  • Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Army Exercise 'KAZIND' will be conducted between the Indian and Kazakhstan Army from 10 to 23 Sep 2018 in Otar region, Kazakhstan.
  • This is the third joint military exercise between the two countries which have a history of extensive cooperation in the defence arena. The second edition of the exercise was held in India last year.
  • The aim of the exercise is to build and promote bilateral Army to Army relations and exchange skills and experiences between Kazakhstan Army and the Indian Army.
  • The exercise will also serve as a platform for exchange of drills and procedures.
  • The fourteen days exercise with the Kazakhstan Army will follow a graduated continuum from orientation to a full scale mock exercise; the aim being to achieve optimum integration among the two contingents through enhanced mutual comprehension of each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures.

Electoral Reforms

Google to help EC track political ads

What

  • Google, which controls the lion’s share of the digital advertising market, will soon be helping the Election Commission (EC) keep tabs on online political advertising.

Enlighten about how it will do

  • The tech giant will develop a mechanism that will not only ensure pre-certification of political advertisements but also enable it to share with the authority details of the expenditure incurred on its platforms.
  • A committee has been set up to explore possible modifications in Section 126 (election silence) and other provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, in view of the expansion and diversity of media platforms.
  • Google representative told the Commission that the company would keep track of political advertisements and ensure that they were pre-certified by the Election Commission’s Media Certification and Monitoring Committees.
  • This would entail Google asking prospective clients, whenever an order is placed, whether they have been pre-certified.
  • The Commission is the nodal body for pre-certification of advertisements of a political nature, released by either an individual or an organisation.

Election expenditure

  • Google has also assured the committee that it would set up a mechanism for sharing information on the cost of the political advertisements.
  • This would be of use to Returning Officers when it comes to calculating the election expenditure of individual candidates.
  • As soon as someone is declared a candidate for any election, all the money spent by the person for campaigning gets added as election expenditure.
  • The Commission also asks the candidates to declare their official social media accounts

Facebook tools

  • The EC’s committee had earlier held meetings with Facebook, which has also agreed to develop tools for removing any content pertaining to election matters during the 48-hour period when the ‘prohibition protocol’ is in place.
  • It is working on ways to check fake news and share details of expenditure on poll-related advertisements.

Appointments

CJI Misra names Gogoi as successor

What

  • Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Tuesday recommended Justice Ranjan Gogoi as his successor and the 46th Chief Justice of India.
  • Law Ministry sources confirmed the receipt of the recommendation letter of the CJI
  • If the government approves the recommendation, Justice Gogoi would have a tenure as Chief Justice of India of about 13 months, from October 3, 2018 till his retirement on November 17, 2019.
  • CJI Misra has followed convention by recommending the next senior most Supreme Court judge, Justice Gogoi, as his successor.

Enlighten about Justice Gogoi

  • Born on November 18, 1954, is a native of Assam.
  • He joined the Bar in 1978 and practised mainly in the Gauhati High Court. He was appointed as permanent judge of the High Court on February 28, 2001.
  • He was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 9, 2010 and appointed its Chief Justice in February 2011. He was elevated to the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012.

Environment

GM mustard trials may get nod soon

What

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to decide on field-trial approvals for the controversial transgenic mustard developed by the University of Delhi’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP)
  • The CGMCP had earlier applied to grow transgenic mustard (DMH-11) in plots in Delhi and Punjab to test the plant’s effects on honeybees after the GEAC, which had initially cleared the GM crop for “commercial cultivation”, backtracked and demanded more tests and additional data on honeybees and other pollinators and on soil microbial diversity.

Enlighten about the earlier events

  • The GEAC, the apex regulator of transgenic products, had in July put a decision on proposed field trials on hold after some members objected to the use of “unapproved pesticides/herbicides
  • The CGMCP team had proposed to use endosulfan — a banned pesticide — as part of their experiment
  • In March, the GEAC had sought more tests for GM mustard in the wake of a chorus of objections to the transgenic crop

Apprehension

  • Environmentalists, farmer groups and some scientists argue that transgenic mustard poses several environmental and health risks.
  • Among these is a contention that it contains a foreign gene from another species, that tests so far have failed to show any appreciable gains in yield over traditional varieties and that it could, if commercially approved, make farmers growing the GM crop dependent on glyphosate — a weedicide that has been linked to cancer.

Enlighten about GEAC

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • As per Rules, 1989, it is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
  • The committee is also responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the enviornment including experimental field trials.
  • GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • Presently, it has 24 members and meets every month to review the applications in the areas indicated above.

Sources – The Hindu , PIB , Indian express